10 Things To Do In The Costa Del Sol

What once were fishing villages have now become collectively known as the ‘Sun Coast’ with millions of visitors from around the globe, not to mention some 300,000 expats who have made the place home. Here there are 320 sunny days a year, the waters are warm and the beaches are to die for. So by day you can soak up the sun, by night party like there is no tomorrow.

EASY ESTEPONA

If you are wanting a quieter time away Estepona offers 12 miles of beach as well as the casco antiguo (old town) with
• Plaza Las Flores a favourite hangout;
• Orquidario de Estepona botanical gardens are a nice place to picnic;
• a display of traditional flamenco at the Blue Dolphin;
• or take an ocean tour to swim, fish, snorkel or just relax in the Med, while supping Cava and keeping an eye out for those elusive dolphins.

MILLIONAIRE’S MARBELLA

If you have a plethora of Euros then Marbella may be the place for you where you can:
• pose with the millionaires with their yachts on the pretty marina;
• or spend time admiring the 15th-century Plaza de los Naranjos in the heart of the old town.

Eateries include:
• Yaba Of with Lebanese fayre;
• the Italian Rivarino Galato;
• Hawaiian Wabi Sabi Marbella;
• barbecue at Rib Shack Marbella;
• or Indian at the Mini India Elvira.

FAMILY FUN IN FUENGIROLA

If yours is a more family-orientated trip then try Fuengirola for a fine beach and seafront promenade and explore:
• the 10th century Moorish castle;
• eco-friendly zoo Bioparc Fuengirola;
• the charming flea and street markets for native nosh and novelties;
• retail therapy at Miramar Shopping Centre;
• or the bars and restaurants of La Plaza de los Chinorros.

BUDDHISTIC BENALMADENA

This resort comes in three parts: the old town inland; the beach and port area; and Arroyo de la Miel, a lively suburb. Highlights include:
• Bil Bil Castle with its Arabian architecture, and it holds concerts and art exhibitions;
• an authentic Thai temple, with more than 1,500 exotic butterflies from around the world for you to marvel at in this tropical paradise;
• the Stupa of Enlightenment for some Buddhistic serenity;
• or all the fun of the fair at Tivoli World.

MINIATURES IN MIJAS

Visit this beautiful little village nestled in the mountains for views of the coast, as well as the maze of old Moorish streets filled with charming shops in its tiny squares. Find:
• the Miniature Museum with ‘the world’s largest collection of the smallest things’;
• take a hike up the rough trail of Picos de Mijas; have a splashing time at Aquamijas water park;
• or pay your tribute to Mary at the cave-like chapel La Ermita Virgen De la Pena.

TRASHY BUT LOVABLE TORREMOLINOS

Torre de los Molinos (Tower of the Windmills) refers to a Moorish watchtower that was once surrounded by 19 flourmills. The ancient Torre Vigia is still here, but surrounding it now is a big, brash and trashily modern resort that is the quintessence of inexpensive fun. There is:
• the cabaret at Guapatini’s Show Bar for kitsch and vaudeville;
• unusual and unconventional theatre at the Chamber of Secrets;
• or face your fears in the Crocodile Park.

A MILE OF ART IN MALAGA

Andalucía’s second largest city has invested €100m in the arts in the last ten years and boasts outposts of Paris’s Pompidou Centre and the State Russian Museum – part of a “mile of art”. The redeveloped waterfront has given Málaga dozens of new dining options. Museums include:
• The Automobile and Fashion Museum for car fanatics;
• Museo Picasso Malaga that celebrates Pablo Picasso’s birthplace and artistic genius;
• or Museo del Vidrio y Cristal de Malaga for the world seen through the medium of glass.

ESCAPE TO TORRE DEL MAR

Favoured by Spanish families, this resort is less tawdry than others to the west. It has a wide sandy beach backed by a tree-lined promenade. Highlights include:
• art museum Centro Cultural Nuestra Sra del Carmen Antigua Azucarera for culture vultures;
• fun and games at Torrenigma Escape Room;
• or a bicycle trip from Bike to the Future.

FLAMENCO IN VELEZ-MA

This market town has beautiful Mudéjar features and a lively annual flamenco guitar competition every July. Also features:
• art museum Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Velez Malaga;
• Teatro del Carmen, a Carmelite convent which was converted to a theatre in 1995;
• the colourful and exotic flea and street Trapiche market.

NATURAL NERJA

Tasteful, white-washed Nerja sits on attractive, verdant cliffs with quiet pebble beach coves below. Explore:
• the captivating caves at Cueva de Nerja;
• or the beautiful little Church of El Salvador.

So while Costa del Sol does at first make you think of beach bums on balmy days there is so much more to discover – of course with your trusty hire car to get you from A to B and back again.